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Submitted: 07-23-2008 by kbf

Of the few British styled performance kayaks for larger paddlers, the Assateague and the Tempest 180 are the most popular IMO. I have owned both of them here’s the scoop.

The Tempest is a good handling kayak. It also surfs nicely but when paddled over larger waves the bow slaps the backside of the wave and flex in the kayak can be felt. Sitting on the rear deck caused that area to flex and creak. After rolling in the surf the thigh brace cracked and the attached cockpit coaming separated from the kayak.

The best feature of this kayak is its carving ability due to harder chines. The Tempest has a very comfortable but delicate seat pan, be careful not to stand on it. The cockpit is 36 inches long and allowed me to get in seat first with a 34" inseam. It has more deck bungies than I would ever use and a loose fitting skeg that rattles in its skeg box.

The bulkheads are RTV’ed into place and the day hatch and rear bulkheads leaked around the skeg line that runs through them. The forward bulkhead leaked around its RTV seal. After paying over $3000 I was making repairs I would expect to perform on a used kayak. This is a well designed but poorly built kayak.

The Assateague has glassed in bulkheads that are water tight and practically air tight. After rescue and roll practices I found a few drops of water in the forward hatch, which may have dripped off of me. It has adequate deck storage bungies, and a strong smooth quiet skeg. It has both toggle handles for holding on to it in the surf and suitcase style carry handles for transport. Sitting on the rear deck causes no flex or sound from the boat. I feel no flex in this kayak it is solidly built.

The Assateague fit provides me with better control and makes rolling easier. It has a simple durable and comfortable seat and responds well to lean turns. I like the two large identical hatch covers for front and rear compartments, they provide more packing options.

I found drops of water leaking into the Assateague from the skeg slider guide rod. I placed a drop of marine RTV where the metal rod meets the fiberglass and that did the trick. My rolling confidence has soared now that I trust my kayak will not come apart.

As for performance both boats are responsive and handle well
Assateague: faster and better tracking, easier rolling
Tempest: responds quickly to lean turns, better carving

As for construction Impex wins; no contest. Build quality (fiberglass line) is of no concern to Wilderness Systems. Marketing strategy is where Wilderness shines. Wilderness Systems boats are easily found at sporting good retailers as well as kayak shops. Impex boats were more difficult for me to find but it was definitely worth the effort. I give the Assateague 10 out of 10.

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